Another project concluded.

With the normal passage of time (and my normal obliviousness to its passage), June has come, and today makes it 80 days since I started my limoncello steeping.

You may recall I discussed this project about 40 days ago, but if you don't, here's a recap: I peeled 16 lemons, and threw the peels, a sprig of rosemary, and a fifth of 100-proof vodka in a jar, sealed it, and left it in my closet.  Eventually I added sugar syrup and more vodka, and put it back in my closet to sit again.  Today I took that jar out, and have strained this sweet and potent beverage into clear swing-top bottles.  The vodka picked up a nice yellow color that makes it look nice and summery.  In that spirit, I'm looking forward to enjoying this home-made limoncello with my friends.

As it has continued to be warm, I've been doing what I can to go outside, eat fresh produce, and all the other somewhat healthy things associated with nice weather.  Last Saturday I combined these activities in a trip to Urbana's Market at the Square, the local farmer's market.  There I saw plenty of strawberries, zucchini, and green beans, as well as baked goods and stalls for local butchers.  I wasn't feeling too adventurous (and I have pride about doing my own baking), so I just picked up some strawberries, which I proceeded to use in this weekend's cookie recipe.

99. Chocolate-Strawberry Thumbprints
I'm getting to the point in this cookie project where I am deliberately trying to prepare recipes I've been putting off for some reason or another.  This recipe had been delayed for two reasons.
1) Berries are expensive when they're not in season.
2) These cookies cannot be pre-assembled.
The nice thing about living in the Midwest, though, is that berries are now in season, and there is always at least one picnic or cookout to attend on Memorial Day.  So with berries in hand and a get-together in mind, I made these cookies.

There are three layers involved in this recipe.  The first is the chocolate cookie on the bottom, which is made with both dutch cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate.  For these cookies to be useful, I had to use my thumb to press a hole in the center before baking, and then use the end of a wooden spoon to deepen the hole halfway through the baking process.  Thus, the cookies themselves have a strong chocolate taste, with a nice open space in the center to hold the other two layers.  I was able to make these cookies a couple days ahead of time, as it's just the assembly that's time-sensitive.

The toppings for the cookie are simply cream cheese mixed with confectioners sugar, and diced fresh strawberries tossed with a little bit of granulated sugar.  The sugar made the strawberries more juicy, so if the toppings were left on the cookie for too long, the whole ensemble would get a little soggy.  This wasn't a big problem, though, because my friends ate them up in good time.

Overall, I would say this is a good recipe, although I found that the cream cheese doesn't really stand out when juxtaposed with the strawberries and all that chocolate.  It provides a nice texture and visual contrast, but I'm never totally happy with a recipe unless I can taste all the key ingredients.

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